Monday, March 30, 2015

Agassi Declares Rafael Nadal as the Greatest Of All-Time

Andre Agassi has hailed Rafael Nadal as the best player in the history of tennis, ahead of Roger Federer.

The former world No. 1 opted for the Spaniard over Federer, whose wife earlier this week gave birth to a second set of twins, because he has thrived in an ultra-competitive "golden age of tennis".

"I'd put Nadal number one, Federer number two," the eight-time Grand Slam-winner said.

"Federer separated himself from the field for four years. He separated himself from Roddick and Hewitt," Agassi added. "Nadal had to deal with Federer, Djokovic, Murray in the golden age of tennis. He has done what he has done and he's not done yet."

Conventional wisdom ranks Federer ahead of Nadal, as the Swiss holds a record 17 Grand Slam titles against 13 for the current world No. 1. But Nadal has a convincing 23-10 head-to-head record against Federer and is one Australian Open victory away from becoming only the third man to win all four Grand Slam titles twice.

"He has won multiple majors, every single one (more than once) except the Australian Open - and give him another year on that," Agassi said. "It's just remarkable to me what he has done, and he has done it all during Federer's prime."

Agassi added that he did not discount Australia's Rod Laver, two-time winner of the calendar-year Grand Slam, when rating the greatest player of all time.

"I think Federer is a class above, quite frankly," Agassi told HuffPost Live. "You're talking about a guy who dominated pretty much on every surface, minus one guy [Nadal] on clay. He's won everything."

Federer broke the record for Grand Slam titles he shared with Sampras when he won his 15th, at Wimbledon in 2009. The 32-year-old Swiss also surpassed Sampras' record of 286 weeks at No. 1 after reclaiming the top spot following his 17th major title, at Wimbledon in 2012. Federer has 77 career titles and Sampras has 64.

Agassi favors Federer because of his all-court prowess.

"Pete was obviously off the hook on faster courts, but during the clay season players wanted to play against him," Agassi said. "It was an opportunity to get a win over him. You didn't have that luxury with Fed. He was really the world-class, all-around player. Until Nadal, you would say that Fed is probably the best of all time."

Nadal, 27, has 13 major titles and owns a 21-10 record against Federer.

"Nadal has an argument to make for the best of all time," Agassi said. "If Nadal is sitting at a table with Federer and Federer says, 'I'm the best ever,' my first question would be, 'Well, then how come you didn't beat me, because I beat you twice as many times? And, hey, by the way, you know I won everything, including a gold medal [in singles at the Olympics] and Davis Cup [with Spain].'

"But at the same token, Federer has separated himself during a few years like nobody else. And he's done it more consistently. To be able to make the argument for both guys playing in the same generation is pretty remarkable."

Agassi, who won all four Grand Slam tournaments, finished with 60 titles and spent 101 weeks at No. 1, doesn't put himself in the greatest-of-all-time conversation.

"It's not even close," Agassi said. "I'm way down the list from guys like that. I did manage to win all of [the Slams], but that's just the first criterion in my mind. ... For me, those two [Federer and Nadal] and [Rod] Laver are in a whole other tier."

Although Serena Williams, who won her 19th Grand Slam title Saturday with a straight-set win over Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open, is arguably the most powerful women’s tennis player of all time, she isn’t the best. That label still has to go to Germany’s Steffi Graf, who dominated the sport from 1987-1999.

Graf won 22 Slams, the most by any female or male in the sport, recording seven championships at Wimbledon, six at the French Open, five at the U.S. Open and four at the Australian. In 56 Grand Slam events, her record was 282–34 (an amazing 89 percent) with the breakdown being 87–10 at the French, 75–8 at Wimbledon, 73–10 at the U.S., and 47–6 at the Australian.

The 89 percent winning percentage held in her overall singles record as she finished 900–115. She was anchored in the top spot in the Women’s Tennis Association rankings for a record 377 weeks, including 186 consecutive from August 1987 to March 1991.

Just over 30 years old, Graf retired in 1999. By contrast, Williams is 33, becoming the oldest woman to win the Australian Open. She broke a tie with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for second in Slams titles but is well behind Navratilova, Evert and Graf for overall singles titles.

Could Williams pass Graf’s 22 Slams mark? It’s certainly in her reach if she can remain healthy for another two years or so. But Graf’s accomplishments, who began her career at just 12, still figure to be more impressive than those of Williams.

After all, she won the unprecedented Golden Slam of all four singles titles and the Olympic crown in 1988.

More information:
» FiveThirtyEight: "The Greatest Rivalry In Men’s Pro Tennis History Is Happening Now"
» The Guardian: "Is Roger Federer the greatest ever or the second best of his generation?"

Angel di Maria

Manchester United star Angel di Maria is most popular Premier League player based on shirt sales ahead of summer signings Alexis Sanchez and Diego Costa

  • Almost one in 10 of fans in stores ask for Angel di Maria's name to be put on the back of a shirt
  • Man United signed Argentine winger for record £60m fee last summer
  • Summer signings Alexis Sanchez and Diego Costa complete the top three
  • David de Gea's No 1 jersey is in fourth with 2.16 per cent share of sales

Read more:
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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Jack LaLanne: The Godfather of Fitness

"The only way you can hurt the body is not use it." -Jack LaLanne
Jack LaLanne was addicted to sugar as a child, causing him to commit acts of violence, including setting his parents' house on fire and attacking his brother with an axe. He was so weak his family physician recommended he be removed from school to rest and regain his strength. Around this time, he and his mother attended a lecture by Paul C. Bragg, a nutritionist who told LaLanne he was a human garbage can. LaLanne turned his life around with a strict diet and exercise.

By the age of 18, he was running a home bakery selling healthy breads and a home gym where he trained policemen and firemen in exercise and weightlifting. LaLanne's reputation as a physical fitness guru eventually led to his 34-year stint as the host of TV's The Jack LaLanne Show (1953). There he taught exercise aimed principally at homemakers, using items found around the home.

Even as he exceeded 95 years of age, LaLanne continued to boast a fine physique, and encourage fans with health and fitness tips through videos and writing. LaLanne died of pneumonia at his home in Morro Bay, California, in January 2011, with his wife Elaine, family and friends surrounding him. Mr. LaLanne had been ill prior to his death.

Some of his amazing feats of strength include:
  • "He hasn't had dessert since 1929. He started his own gym in 1936, which included a health food store and a juice bar. He appeared on You Asked for It (1950), where he performed 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes. 
  • The Jack LaLanne Show was the longest–running television exercise program of all time. It was on television for 34 years.
  • At age 41 proving it possible to escape from Alcatraz by swimming to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco while wearing handcuffs
  • At 45, completing a thousand push-ups and a thousand chin-ups in an hour and twenty-two minutes with blisters under his calluses
  • At 60, swimming from Alcatraz to Fisherman's Wharf handcuffed, shackled and towing a thousand-pound boat.
  • At 70, battling currents while handcuffed and shackled, towing seventy boats holding seventy people for a mile and a half across Long Beach Harbor.

Even at age 94, LaLanne was still exercising for two hours every day. 90 minutes of strength training. 30 minutes of swimming or walking. 10 raw vegetables. Every. Single. Day. For 60 years.

More information:
» Men's Fitness: "What We Learned from Jack LaLanne"

Monday, March 23, 2015

Friday, March 20, 2015

Neil Young - "The Restless Consumer" (2006)

Neil Young began writing songs for Living with War in a Gambier, Ohio, hotel room while visiting his daughter at her college. While retrieving coffee from a vending machine early one morning, Young saw the front page of a USA Today issue documenting a surgery room on an airplane flying seriously wounded US soldiers from Iraq to Germany. He later told Charlie Rose that the combination of the vivid picture and the headline (which focused not on any suffering and death depicted, but rather on medical breakthroughs made during the war) moved him: "For some reason, that was what did it to me. I went upstairs after that. I wrote this song, 'Families'; I started writing another song, 'Restless Consumer'; I started writing all these songs all at once; I had like four songs going at once."

The album was nominated for three 2007 Grammy Awards in the categories of Best Rock Album, Best Rock Song and Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance (both for "Lookin' for a Leader").

Commenting on the lack of artists writing songs critical of American policy at the time, Young said, "I was hoping some young person would come along and say this and sing some songs about it, but I didn't see anybody, so I'm doing it myself. I waited as long as I could."

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Delta Spirit - "Language of the Dead"

Delta Spirit is an American indie rock band from San Diego/Long Beach/Orange County, California, United States. After relocating to Brooklyn, NY in 2012, the band is now spread across Brooklyn (Winrich & Mclaren), Austin (Vasquez), and Los Angeles (Jameson & Young). Delta Spirit is most known for their intense live performances, their congregational song writing, and their driving rhythms. The band released their fourth album, Into the Wide, on 9 September 2014. It is the group's highest charting album in the United States to date.

Frontman Matt Vasquez pulls triple duty as he also directed and wrote the video, which features Agamemnon, Robert E. Lee and Leo Tolstoy, all played by various band members, teaming up in order to vanquish a terrifying space monster, played by Vasquez’s own cat. There are also spaceship, planets, black holes and a whole lot of green screen.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Wolf Alice - "Giant Peach"

Wolf Alice are a four-piece alternative rock band from North London, consisting of Ellie Rowsell, Joel Amey, Joff Oddie and Theo Ellis. They released their debut single "Fluffy" in February 2013, the "Bros" single followed this in May. In October 2013, they released their debut EP Blush. Their second EP Creature Songs was released in May 2014 on Dirty Hit Records. On February 24th 2015 they released the lead single "Giant Peach" from their debut album My Love Is Cool, scheduled for release on 22 June 2015.